Orthoceras (Prehistoric World by CollectA)

5 (15 votes)

Orthocones, conical fossil shells belonging to extinct cephalopods, are among the most popular and easily obtained fossils. So abundant are they that they’re often included in mass produced fossil dig kits for children, made into jewelry, or sold as souvenirs in museum gift shops. Orthocones are found around the world with most of the specimens being sold coming from Morocco. Orthocones are not a taxonomic group however, and straight shelled cephalopods evolved several times throughout pre-history.

Many unrelated orthocones used to be classified in the genus Orthoceras, which served as a wastebasket taxon for any species of conical-shelled cephalopod. Nowadays the consensus is that Orthoceras is a genus with only one species, O. regulare. Orthoceras regulare lived in the Middle Ordovician in what is now Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, and Lithuania. The Orthoceratoidea subclass to which Orthoceras belonged lived from the Lower Ordovician to the Upper Triassic, although there is evidence to suggest they may have survived into the Early Cretaceous. Evidence gathered from preserved radula (beaks) suggests that orthocerids are more closely related to coleoids (octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) than to the extant Nautilus but classifying extinct cephalopods has proven to be a frustrating endeavor, given that the soft portions of their bodies are seldom if ever preserved.

Despite their abundance in the fossil record shelled cephalopods are exceptionally rare as toys. For 2020, CollectA would release three much needed extinct cephalopod toys, a Pleuroceras ammonite, belemnite, and this Orthoceras. New for 2021 is yet another cephalopod, a Pravitoceras ammonite. The CollectA Orthoceras, I believe, is the only figure of this genus ever made.

The CollectA Orthoceras is a rather simple little figure. The arms are splayed out at various angles and sculpted with a pair of suckers on each one. Coleoid arms should not be confused with tentacles which are a unique appendage of their own with suckers only on the tips. The figure measures 6” from the tip of its shell to the end of its 10 arms. This puts the figure at 1:1 in scale.

With another 1/1 scale cephalopod, the Safari reef squid.

Within the flailing arms a small beak or radula can be seen, while on either side of the head small black eyes have been painted. On top of the head is the hood and on the underside is the syphon. The shell is textured with ringed grooves running down its length. In life these chambered shells would have aided in buoyancy. The orthocone shells you usually see sold in fossil shops are often lengthwise cross sections that display these chambers.

The paintjob on this figure is simple, with the shell and underside of the arms being cream colored. The head and outside of the arms are brown and brown bands run down the length of the shell. The hood is a darker shade of brown. Being made of soft material the shell is prone to warping, and the company and manufacturing information printed on the shell is bold and obnoxiously obvious, those are my only real complaints about the toy.

The CollectA Orthoceras is a small and simple figure that adequately represents a significant species thus far neglected in this hobby. That it happens to be life sized is pretty cool, and it displays well amongst the other CollectA invertebrates, prehistoric marine animals, or within a collection of actual fossils. The figure is small and simple, but it also only retails for about $7 and it absolutely worth the price. Let CollectA know that you support the production of these types of figures by picking it and the rest of the CollectA invertebrates up.

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Comments 7

  • Also, that’s a cool reef squid. Will that be showing up on the Animal Toy Blog in the future?

  • Excellent review. Not gonna lie, now that they’ve given us four superb cephalopods, I’d like CollectA to tackle other prehistoric marine invertebrates in the future. I’d especially love Anomalocaris, Pterygotus, and Hallucigenia.

  • Wonderful review of this cool figure. Great companion for the real fossil, I have mine displayed with my fossil collection.
    Here’s to hoping the series will be a success and that we will see more invertebrates from CollectA in the future.

  • Thanks for the thorough review! The crop of invertebrates CollectA released last year was such a breath of fresh air.

    • Thanks! And I agree. Honestly, CollectA’s dinosaurs don’t do much for me, they’re non-dinosaurs are what really grab my interest.

  • Quite detailed and beautiful prehistoric invertebrave toy and it is appreciated that Collecta has had the great deference of its commercial philosophy that is usual every year, of making a replica of a prehistoric animal unpublished in the toy dinosaur market, in in this case the elegantly painted and sculpted orthoceras.

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